Blue Jays and the three-headed monster philosophy
The Blue Jays could improve the roster in a number of ways this offseason, but their best bet may be trying to build a three-headed monster in the rotation.
As we continue to wait for the Blue Jays to make an offseason-defining move to improve the roster, most of the free agent market remains in tact. We’re slowly seeing movement with a few free agents signing over the last week or two, as well as a handful of bigger trades taking place, and with about a month and a half before the start of the regular season it’s bound to pick up sooner than later.
In the meantime the talk continues about what the Blue Jays should do to improve their chances ahead of the 2021 campaign. All offseason long we’ve heard rumours about them checking in on infielders to fill their third base vacancy, potential upgrades in the outfield, and arms to raise the floor of both the starting rotation and the bullpen. It’s a legitimate debate about where the greatest priority should be, and ideally Ross Atkins and the front office would be able to address all four.
The topic went further than just the normal circles, with MLB.com doing a feature about the Blue Jays’ offseason. It was encouraging to hear how high that Sean Casey, Mark DeRosa, and Dave Valle are about the future in Toronto, and it was interesting to hear their take on things. To the question of where their highest priority should be, Casey wasted no time in responding with “Trevor Bauer”.
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While I have mixed feelings about pursuing Bauer, mostly because of his reported ask of 35-40 million per year, it’s hard to disagree with the argument that Casey laid out. He pointed to an emerging lineup core that includes Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Teoscar Hernandez and more, referenced their ace in Hyun Jin Ryu, and another emerging in Nate Pearson. But that didn’t stop him from selling the idea of a “three-headed monster” being the best way to transform the Blue Jays from pretenders into legitimate contenders.
Here’s what the 12-year MLB veteran had to say:
"“C’mon, they’re loaded in that lineup. And then you see Nate Pearson coming, the guy has an absolute cannon of an arm. You got Ryu last year and he was in the Cy contention. You add Bauer? Now you’ve got the three-headed monster you need, now you have the lineup you need, and I think that’s a guy that they’re rumoured to be on too, and I think Mark Shapiro can ink him to five years with Ross Atkins kinda driving the bus on the other end of the players. They’re sitting pretty man, this is great, you should be so thankful you’re a Blue Jays fan (to Derosa) because for the next 15 years, they’re going to be really, really good.”"
Having three high-end starters is obviously helpful during the regular season, but Casey’s point is even more important once the playoffs roll around. We’ve seen this strategy with teams like the Washington Nationals and their dominant trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin, and it worked pretty well for their 2019 championship. To a lesser extent, the same goes for the calibre of the starting pitching from both the Dodgers and Rays from the 2020 World Series.
Casey is correct that right now the Blue Jays have one piece of that three-headed monster in Ryu (under contract for three more years), and if he can stay healthy and realize his potential, Pearson may be the second head. In a few years time they might have other in-house starters like Simeon Woods Richardson or Alek Manoah join that tier, but the young core in Toronto should be serious about competing even before those two are ready to thrive at the highest level.
The Blue Jays have collected a reasonable amount of starting depth, and even if they can’t add another #1-2 starter, they should be able to round out the group with the likes of Robbie Ray, Tanner Roark, Ross Stripling, Anthony Kay, Trent Thornton and more. However, the next step toward truly striking fear in the hearts of AL East rivals like the Yankees and Rays would be to find another ace for the rotation. Maybe that’s Bauer, or a possible trade target like Luis Castillo, but I can’t argue with Bauer.
That would make an exciting young Blue Jays team look downright scary.